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regarding the new Courts of Stone "bonds" rule;

are the XP cost cumulative, or total.
ie: if rank 1 bond cost 3xp, and rank 2 bond cost 4xp. Do you need to spend only 1xp to go from rank 1 to 2, or you need to spend 4xp?

If it is the total, then it means a rank 5 bond would cost a staggering 31xp. Which is basically a school rank with all it includes.
If the cost is only 10xp for rank 5 though, it makes bonds too strong.

So, I wonder, what are your opinions on that? because I find myself thorn by either finding them too weak, or too strong, whatever the interpretation I use.


edit: on an other, but similar topic. are they even fun things to spend XP on? or shouldn't that just be narrative bonuses you gain by roleplaying such "bonding" interactions with an NPC ?

the rank 4 bonus is the one that strikes me as less fun. especially since you can use their "rings". dunno, just find that very gamey and eventually would start to feel quite "redundant and spammable" in a narrative sense when you can do that four or five times per session. if a session is 3 or 4 scenes (if even), bonds can become omnipresent, obscene, and lose their "flavor" I feel.

Edited by Avatar111

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Based on how school progression works I would have to say that you need to pay the full xp for each rank.  Think i’m with you on bonds, initially I thought they may be quite interesting, but when I read through them properly I totally agree with your edit and won’t be having them in my games.  

 

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On 8/13/2019 at 8:37 PM, Avatar111 said:

are the XP cost cumulative, or total.
ie: if rank 1 bond cost 3xp, and rank 2 bond cost 4xp. Do you need to spend only 1xp to go from rank 1 to 2, or you need to spend 4xp?

I have to think the intent is that you start fresh at each rank, just like when tallying xp within a school rank.  So 4 xp to go from rank 1 to rank 2.

 

On 8/13/2019 at 8:37 PM, Avatar111 said:

edit: on an other, but similar topic. are they even fun things to spend XP on? or shouldn't that just be narrative bonuses you gain by roleplaying such "bonding" interactions with an NPC ?

Conceptually, I think I'd use this justification: a role-playing investment (building up connections) leads to a role-playing advantage (potentially opening doors, or whatever else makes sense), and a mechanical investment (experience points) leads to a mechanical advantage (the bonds abilities). I'm not sure yet if I actually buy that.

Here's my breakdown of what I think of the abilities:

Rank 1 (3xp):
Family, Comrade, and Lover are worth about 1 strife per session at rank 1. That seems like a weak use of 3xp. At rank 5, it's probably much harder for you to ever become Composed, but this alone is pretty far from justifying 31xp.
Rival is kind of tricky. At rank 1, it actually seems like a really solid option. Maybe even worth 3xp? Since you have to take your Bond in strife, even if you're rerolling fewer die, I think there's a point where this actually gets weaker as you rank up. How often do you need to reroll 5 die in a situation where you can afford to take 5 additional strife?
Enemy is too hard to gauge. It depends so much on how often your enemy is behind things (and how important the first roll of the scene is).

Rank 2 (4xp, 7xp total):
This seems decent. For the cost of rank 2 in a skill, it's kind of like you have a floating extra rank in a skill that your Bond has, when you really need it. I think this rank is where Bonds seem the most playable to me. It's probably a little weak but good enough that I can imagine someone choosing this. And I love that it's called “Like you always say…” That's fun.

Rank 3 (6xp, 13xp total):
This is the ability that seems nuts to me. As written, eventually you can be playing an NPC for the whole session, every session! Or essentially just switching out between two characters, based on what you need for a scene? If it's an Enemy, how does this make sense? I don't like this kind of game design. I can't imagine many GMs just allowing this as written, which means it's setting up extra work for the GM to figure out how to make it work. And someone has to keep finding reasons why the PC leaves for a scene. If a GM wants to offer this option to players occasionally, cool. I don't think it's the kind of thing that should be a built-in mechanic with an xp cost. Same for if it's flashbacks between PCs (who are making other players wait).

Rank 4 (8xp, 21xp total):
I agree that this feels pretty "gamey," but I think it's much less of a problem. I'd have to do some serious reflection on how strong to make the bonded character, but you'd have to do that anyway for rank 3. I don't love it, but if this was the only problem, I'd get over it.

Rank 5 (10xp, 31xp total):
I love that the capstone ability is about entwined fates. The idea of the mechanic is pretty fun, but I'm not sure it quite works. If it's two PCs, this could basically be 5 extra Void points each per session. That's good, but I for sure don't think it's worth 31xp that don't go towards ranking up.

My initial thought is that I'd just make Bonds a 3 rank system. Rank 1: As is. Rank 2: As is, except it only applies to 3 skills of your choice. Rank 3: As rank 5, and you can use it, even if your bonded character isn't in the scene. Each rank costs 3xp.

 

Edited by MonCalamariAgainstDrunkDriving

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5 hours ago, MonCalamariAgainstDrunkDriving said:

I have to think the intent is that you start fresh at each rank, just like when tallying xp within a school rank.  So 4 xp to go from rank 1 to rank 2.

 

Conceptually, I think I'd use this justification: a role-playing investment (building up connections) leads to a role-playing advantage (potentially opening doors, or whatever else makes sense), and a mechanical investment (experience points) leads to a mechanical advantage (the bonds abilities). I'm not sure yet if I actually buy that.

Here's my breakdown of what I think of the abilities:

Rank 1 (3xp):
Family, Comrade, and Lover are worth about 1 strife per session at rank 1. That seems like a weak use of 3xp. At rank 5, it's probably much harder for you to ever become Composed, but this alone is pretty far from justifying 31xp.
Rival is kind of tricky. At rank 1, it actually seems like a really solid option. Maybe even worth 3xp? Since you have to take your Bond in strife, even if you're rerolling fewer die, I think there's a point where this actually gets weaker as you rank up. How often do you need to reroll 5 die in a situation where you can afford to take 5 additional strife?
Enemy is too hard to gauge. It depends so much on how often your enemy is behind things (and how important the first roll of the scene is).

Rank 2 (4xp, 7xp total):
This seems decent. For the cost of rank 2 in a skill, it's kind of like you have a floating extra rank in a skill that your Bond has, when you really need it. I think this rank is where Bonds seem the most playable to me. It's probably a little weak but good enough that I can imagine someone choosing this. And I love that it's called “Like you always say…” That's fun.

Rank 3 (6xp, 13xp total):
This is the ability that seems nuts to me. As written, eventually you can be playing an NPC for the whole session, every session! Or essentially just switching out between two characters, based on what you need for a scene? If it's an Enemy, how does this make sense? I don't like this kind of game design. I can't imagine many GMs just allowing this as written, which means it's setting up extra work for the GM to figure out how to make it work. And someone has to keep finding reasons why the PC leaves for a scene. If a GM wants to offer this option to players occasionally, cool. I don't think it's the kind of thing that should be a built-in mechanic with an xp cost. Same for if it's flashbacks between PCs (who are making other players wait).

Rank 4 (8xp, 21xp total):
I agree that this feels pretty "gamey," but I think it's much less of a problem. I'd have to do some serious reflection on how strong to make the bonded character, but you'd have to do that anyway for rank 3. I don't love it, but if this was the only problem, I'd get over it.

Rank 5 (10xp, 31xp total):
I love that the capstone ability is about entwined fates. The idea of the mechanic is pretty fun, but I'm not sure it quite works. If it's two PCs, this could basically be 5 extra Void points each per session. That's good, but I for sure don't think it's worth 31xp that don't go towards ranking up.

My initial thought is that I'd just make Bonds a 3 rank system. Rank 1: As is. Rank 2: As is, except it only applies to 3 skills of your choice. Rank 3: As rank 5, and you can use it, even if your bonded character isn't in the scene. Each rank costs 3xp.

 

Yes, Rank 1 and 2 are especially decent. But it is costly. Most importantly though... are they "FUN" ? not sure... Maybe the narrative effects, but the mechanical effects (balance aside) are just stale.

I like the idea behind playing an NPC for a scene.. would need to find a way to make that work. I like that rank 3 unlocks the third narrative level too.

Rank 4 and 5 would probably never use, at this point, it totally takes over the narrative into non-sense territory.

All in all, its very hit and miss, which is unfortunately the case for quite a few of the mechanical design of this game. I guess time is money and they won't sell that much more books even if they make it much more polished.

 

Edited by Avatar111

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53 minutes ago, Avatar111 said:

I like the idea behind playing an NPC for a scene.. would need to find a way to make that work. I like that rank 3 unlocks the third narrative level too.

Throwing flash-backs into a game give you a lot of narrative options.....but do also play merry heck with both the storyline's chronology and the time of the players not starring in the flashback. I don't object to them (and they can be great at the right time) but you definitely need to build an adventure with the understanding that they're in scope, because it'll mess things up something rotten if you don't.

 

 

Sharing void points is very powerful. It's not 31 XP powerful, but then it doesn't have to be, because you've got all the 'subordinate' rank effects too. It's definitely for specific types of bond, too - after all, regardless of the mechanical effect, if it's a Nemesis bond, you aren't going to be using “We are bound by this fate we have made!”, because if the other character is your nemesis, there's almost no situation you'd want to give them 'free' void points at a cost of your own.

A 'comrade' bond taken to the limit for a pair of players is pretty powerful... getting you:

  1. Ignore the first 5 1518491343_StrifeSmall.png.6434e11e967f0 on any skill check your counterpart is skilled in
  2. A permanent skilled assist (somewhere between a free ring rank and a free skill rank) on these skills
  3. The ability to chop and change between their skill or ring ranks and yours
  4. The ability to shuffle void points back and forth

Now that does feel powerful. Is it worth 31xp? Not sure. But it certainly feels like a credible alternative to a rank's investment in a school curriculum.

 

 

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20 minutes ago, Magnus Grendel said:

Throwing flash-backs into a game give you a lot of narrative options.....but do also play merry heck with both the storyline's chronology and the time of the players not starring in the flashback. I don't object to them (and they can be great at the right time) but you definitely need to build an adventure with the understanding that they're in scope, because it'll mess things up something rotten if you don't.

 

 

Sharing void points is very powerful. It's not 31 XP powerful, but then it doesn't have to be, because you've got all the 'subordinate' rank effects too. It's definitely for specific types of bond, too - after all, regardless of the mechanical effect, if it's a Nemesis bond, you aren't going to be using “We are bound by this fate we have made!”, because if the other character is your nemesis, there's almost no situation you'd want to give them 'free' void points at a cost of your own.

A 'comrade' bond taken to the limit for a pair of players is pretty powerful... getting you:

  1. Ignore the first 5 1518491343_StrifeSmall.png.6434e11e967f0 on any skill check your counterpart is skilled in
  2. A permanent skilled assist (somewhere between a free ring rank and a free skill rank) on these skills
  3. The ability to chop and change between their skill or ring ranks and yours
  4. The ability to shuffle void points back and forth

Now that does feel powerful. Is it worth 31xp? Not sure. But it certainly feels like a credible alternative to a rank's investment in a school curriculum.

 

 

It is probably powerful enough, I do not fret too much about the balance of it (this game is not "balanced" anyway and doesn't need to be).

From a FUN perspective though, I really don't get it. When you start to spam your bond left and right for mechanical bonuses and replacing your ring/skills because this is your "build", I don't see that looking anything but awkward from a narrative standpoint.
I stand by my initial thought; it is garbage, but some elements of it can be used to flesh out relationships in your campaigns.

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I dunno.

 

I quite like the idea in theory - a rank 2 'comrade' bond where two PCs can ignore a couple of points of strife  and gain assists on martial arts and fitness checks when fighting together in a skirmish, even if they're not actively spending actions assisting one another, feels right.

Being able to spend XP on what's essentially a custom kata of "fight more effectively when back to back with my sworn ally" for 7xp seems fair.

 

Of course, with the bond rules as they are, the other comrade doesn't actually have to be there, which makes the whole idea fall through a bit.

 

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51 minutes ago, Avatar111 said:

From a FUN perspective though, I really don't get it.

The good news is that it's a mechanic a player chooses to bring to their character. A player can pretty easily avoid using them if they don't think it's fun.

 

1 hour ago, Magnus Grendel said:

A 'comrade' bond taken to the limit for a pair of players is pretty powerful... getting you:

  1. Ignore the first 5 1518491343_StrifeSmall.png.6434e11e967f0 on any skill check your counterpart is skilled in
  2. A permanent skilled assist (somewhere between a free ring rank and a free skill rank) on these skills
  3. The ability to chop and change between their skill or ring ranks and yours
  4. The ability to shuffle void points back and forth

Now that does feel powerful. Is it worth 31xp? Not sure. But it certainly feels like a credible alternative to a rank's investment in a school curriculum.

Admittedly these abilities are very solid, but you can also only call upon them, at most, 5 times per session total. So it's not quite a permanent skilled assist...

 

19 minutes ago, Magnus Grendel said:

I quite like the idea in theory - a rank 2 'comrade' bond where two PCs can ignore a couple of points of strife  and gain assists on martial arts and fitness checks when fighting together in a skirmish, even if they're not actively spending actions assisting one another, feels right.

Being able to spend XP on what's essentially a custom kata of "fight more effectively when back to back with my sworn ally" for 7xp seems fair.

This is a great idea! A back-to-back fighting kata seems more fun and flavorful, and it could be something that contributes to ranking up your school.

I also think the current advantages could overlap with a lot of the low rank bond abilities. If it's something that removes strife, like Lover, it could just be a passion. If it's a bonus in a specific situation, maybe it's a distinction (Ally and Karmic Tie especially could work).

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47 minutes ago, MonCalamariAgainstDrunkDriving said:

The good news is that it's a mechanic a player chooses to bring to their character. A player can pretty easily avoid using them if they don't think it's fun.

I'm quite curious who would think it can be fun to spend 31xp and call upon your dad to play his rings in all kind of situations instead of just making a character and have your dad be an advantage/disadvantage or otherwise plugged in the narrative.

Honestly, as a GM I'd be like: "ok, so you think about your dad, again, like every session in all important situations, and it enables you to get fire ring at 4 and an assist. Next? Oh you start the scene with more composure because of daddy, like last time, got it"

But... what do I know!

My main grip throughout was always about the fact that this mechanic just doesn't make the narrative better, it really makes it worst, in anything but maybe a one shot game.

Titles were already barely holding up, Bonds are straight up garbage.

Onward to the next sourcebook!

Edited by Avatar111

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On 8/28/2019 at 10:12 AM, Avatar111 said:

"ok, so you think about your dad, again, like every session in all important situations, and it enables you to get fire ring at 4 and an assist. Next? Oh you start the scene with more composure because of daddy, like last time, got it"

When it's Hida Kissada, it strangely makes sense!

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